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How to Recognize Animal Allergies

how to recognize animal allergiesYou may not realize how many pets have allergic reactions to certain foods or their environment today, and the number of pets suffering from allergies is on the rise.

A variety of factors can be attributed to the increase in pet allergies, from overuse of food ingredients not healthy for animals, GMO’s, overexposure to certain environmental factors, overbreeding, and more.  The best thing you can do to help protect your pet is to learn to recognize symptoms that indicate allergies to food, their environment, or a combination of the two.

How Your Pet Can Combat Allergies

Food Allergies

Animals can develop food intolerances that can be misidentified as a food allergy.  Food allergies often cause severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylactic shock.  Food intolerances tend to be more mild reactions, such as skin or ear infections, anal gland problems, burping or acid reflux, chronic diarrhea, irritable bowels, or other digestive problems.  A food intolerance can develop at any age, and your pet can be prone to developing an intolerance if they are fed the same food for an extended period of time.  Like people, your pet may grow out of their food sensitivity, or they may develop an increasing number of intolerances to different food ingredients.

Environmental Allergies

Your pet can show signs of environmental allergies in the home, and the causes can be dust mites, air fresheners, carpet cleaners or powder fresheners, cigarette smoke, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, or fabric softeners.  Outdoor allergies can have the same causes as for humans, such as grass, pollen, or dust.  Signs of your pet reacting to an allergen in the environment are itchy or dry skin, hair loss, rash-like bumps on the inner thighs and abdomen, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, or red, irritated skin or paw pads.  These symptoms can cause your pet to scratch at their ears incessantly or chew on their feet or legs.

Steps to Take

If your pet is having a mild environmental allergic reaction, it can help to bathe them or soak their feet, but be sure to use a natural, detergent-free, hypoallergenic soap.  A bath will help to remove excess pollen and dust from their coat and sooth their skin.  Food allergies can be tricky to determine, and you can take a couple of different approaches.  First, make sure your pet’s food has the proper nutritional balance it needs without additional unnecessary ingredient fillers.  You may want to change their food to a different flavor, such as lamb and rice to chicken, or change brands.  You can use a diet elimination technique by making observations of their allergic reaction, change their diet for 4-6 weeks, and monitor their reaction closely.  You will be able to tell by their reaction which foods they have a reaction.

Severe or Chronic Allergic Reactions

If your pet is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, contact your vet immediately for direction.  Pets that have chronic allergies or more serious reactions, it is best to take them to a veterinarian.  The staff at A to Z Veterinary Clinic are well versed in managing animal allergies and can help you develop the best plan to help reduce or eliminate your pet’s allergies.

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